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Yerkes Researchers Present at 40th Annual Society for Neuroscience Conference

November 12, 2010

Media Contacts

Emily Rios, 404-727-7732, erios@emory.edu; On site contact: Lisa Newbern, lisa.newbern@emory.edu, Booth 3817

ATLANTA – Neuroscience researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, will present a wide range of research topics at the Society for Neuroscience’s 40th annual meeting in San Diego, November 13-17, 2010. The information below is a representation of the neuroscience research Yerkes scientists will be discussing. To learn more about ongoing research and scientific resources available at the Yerkes Research Center and the other seven national primate research centers, please visit exhibit booth 3817.

Larry Young, PhD, researches the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying complex social behaviors, including social bonding and social attachments. Dr. Young is most well known for his research examining the mechanisms underlying pair bond formation in monogamous prairie voles. His studies have highlighted the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating social behavior. This work has important implications for psychiatric disorders characterized by disruption in social cognition, including autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

Young will participate in a news conference titled “Oxytocin: It’s More Than the Love Hormone" Sunday, November 14, at 9 a.m. Young will also give a special lecture titled “Neurobiology of Social Bonding and Monogamy: Implications for Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Wednesday, November 17, 8:30 a.m. – 9:40 a.m. Young lab poster presentations scheduled for Sunday, November 14: Meera Modi, 11 a.m. – noon; and James Burkett, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Young lab poster presentations scheduled for Monday, November 15: Catharine Barrett, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; Kiyoshi Inoue PhD, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; and Alaine Keebaugh, PhD, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

The Yerkes Research Center is sponsoring a Meet the Expert session on Brain, Behavior and Evolution featuring George Paxinos of Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute and The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. This session is Saturday, November 13, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Addiction

Leonard Howell, PhD, studies behavioral neuro­pharmacology with a focus on central nervous system stimulants and the development of medications to treat stimulant addiction. Dr. Howell’s ongoing studies investigate nonhuman primate models of the neurochemical mechanisms that mediate drug effects on behavior. Recent efforts have focused on drug-induced changes in brain neurochemistry with in vivo microdialysis in behaving monkeys trained to self-administer cocaine.  Howell lab poster presentation: Kevin Murnane, PhD, Saturday, November 13, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Stella Papa, PhD, researches the areas of pathophysiology and therapeutics of neurodegenerative disorders focusing on Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. Papa lab poster presentations:Jessica Whithear, Sunday, November 14, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.; and Subramaniam Uthayathas, PhD, Monday, November 15, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Yoland Smith, PhD, researches the neurochemical changes that mediate cell death and abnormal motor behaviors in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's chorea. Smith lab poster presentation: Darlene Mitrano, PhD, Wednesday, November 17, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Thomas Wichmann, MD, who collaborates with Smith, researches the pathophysiology of movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. His research focuses on evaluating the role of abnormal nerve cell activity in the basal ganglia in the development of Parkinsonian motor signs. The goal of his work is to gain a better understanding of the chemical and electrophysiologic changes that cause Parkinson’s that can then be translated into new and more effective therapies. Smith and Wichmann lab poster presentations: Yuxian Ma, Sunday, November 14, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Gunasingh Jeyaraj, PhD Monday, November 15, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; C. Glavis-Bloom, Wednesday, November 17, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Memory

Jocelyne Bachevalier, PhD, studies infantile amnesia, the inability to remember virtually anything from infancy. The primary goal of her research program is to determine the structural or functional immaturity responsible for infantile amnesia. Her lab also studies the nature of the memory decline in monkeys, which accompanies normal aging, to help explain aging-related memory disorders. Bachevalier lab poster presentation: Maria Alvarado, PhD, Sunday, November 14, 11 a.m. – noon.

Elizabeth A. Buffalo, PhD, researches the neuronal mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of memory. Through her research, she records neural activity in monkeys that have been trained to perform various types of memory tasks and investigates how changes in neuronal activity correlate with each monkey's ability to learn and remember in order to better understand how medial temporal lobe circuits support memory formation. Such understanding has the potential to make way for new therapies aimed at reducing or preventing memory loss that results from medial temporal lobe disease. Buffalo lab poster presentations scheduled for Monday, November 15: Nathan J. Killian, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.; and James Solyst, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Buffalo lab poster presentation scheduled for Tuesday, November 16: Eugene Agichtein, PhD, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Fear, Anxiety and Stress

Michael Davis, PhD, researches the physiological bases of learning and memory and brain areas involved in fear, anxiety and stress. Davis lab poster presentation scheduled for Tuesday, November 16: Marina Wheeler, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Davis lab poster presentations scheduled for Wednesday November 17:  Eric Heuer, PhD, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; Ryan Parsons, PhD, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; and Andrew Kazama, 11 a.m. – noon.

Donald Rainnie, PhD, aims to create a more thorough understanding of the cellular processes that contribute to the perception of emotion, which is often regarded as a psychological response rather than a physiological process. Rainnie and his research team focus on the cellular and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying emotional aspects of cognition, with emphasis on the role of the extended amygdala in fear conditioning and extinction, as well as emotional disorders such as anxiety, autism, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Rainnie will participate in a nanosymposium titled “The Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis: Linking Stress, Addiction and Affect,” Sunday, November 14, 1 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Rainnie lab presentation: Chenchen Li, Wednesday, November 17, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, studies the biological mechanisms that cause fear. Ressler focuses on post traumatic stress disorder, a condition that causes chronic anxiety and traumatic flashbacks, and the genetic and neurobiological keys to preventing and treating the disease. Ressler lab poster presentation scheduled for Sunday, November 14:  Duke Geem, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. Ressler lab poster presentations scheduled for Tuesday, November 16: Amy Mahan, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.; Georgette Gafford, PhD, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; L. Mou, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; Mallory Bowers, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; Scott A. Heldt, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; and Dennis C. Choi, PhD, 11 a.m. – noon. Ressler lab poster presentations scheduled for Wednesday, November 17: Kelly Sink, PhD, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and Karen E. Murray, 11 a.m. – noon.

Human Nature and Evolution

William D. Hopkins, PhD, takes a multidisciplinary approach to studying human evolution, particularly the evolution of human language. Through the study of nonhuman primates, the Hopkins lab is increasing our understanding of the roles that behavior, laterality, neuroanatomy, cellular organization and cortical function may have played in the evolution of human language. Hopkins lab poster presentation: Claudio Cantalupo, Wednesday, November 17, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Psychobiology

Mark Wilson, PhD, studies how psychosocial factors affect behavioral, metabolic and reproductive health in females. Dr. Wilson investigates the biological signals that mediate the social subordination delay in puberty and how social subordination influences the behavioral efficacy of the hormone estradiol on regulating prosocial and emotional behavior in adult female rhesus monkeys. Another focus of the Wilson lab is the development of a program to study psychosocial influences of appetite and food preference. Wilson lab presentations are scheduled for Monday, November 15: Molly Embree, PhD, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; and Brittany Howell, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Imaging

Xiaodong Zhang, PhD, is Assistant Director of the Yerkes Imaging Center, and his research is focused on the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) techniques for research with nonhuman primates and rodents. Zhang will present a poster Wednesday, November 17, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Graduate student Eric Hecht will present a poster presentation on imaging Monday, November 15, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Hecht works in the labs of Todd Preuss, PhD, and Jim Rilling, PhD.

For eight decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates.

Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health–funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology and immunology, neurologic diseases, neuropharmacology, behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience, and psychiatric disorders, Yerkes research programs are seeking ways to: treat drug addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases; unlock the secrets of memory; determine how the interaction between genetics and society shape who we are; develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.



The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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